A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


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September 13th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox, Education Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Tools in the classroom. Plus: Replacing “very”

With the school year underway, let’s explore how to implement Journalist’s Toolbox into a classroom rather than focus on a single tool this month. College professors and high school journalism teachers have used the site for more than 25 years, mainly for research purposes.


September 9th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, People and Places
2021 Fellow Feature: Yamiche Alcindor

Yamiche Alcindor sees her role as seeking the truth on behalf of Americans and telling stories in ways that connect to their lives. White House correspondent for “PBS NewsHour” and moderator of “Washington Week,” the PBS news analysis show anchored for years by Alcindor’s late mentor, Gwen Ifill, Alcindor has also worked at Newsday, USA Today and The New York Times and serves as a political contributor for NBC News and MSNBC.


September 3rd, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: Building by listening

I’ve done a lot of listening in my year as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists. The best membership organizations are built around listening. I think back now to the first moments of my term, when I gave an inaugural speech in shorts and a jacket from my bedroom, my youngest daughter lying on the floor outside my closed door, listening.


August 29th, 2021 • Featured
Why Lou Grant mattered (in memory of Ed Asner)

In the mid- to late 1970s, hundreds, perhaps thousands of young people were inspired to become journalists after seeing the movie “All The President’s Men.” But for those who already were journalists, even those of us with only a few years in the trenches, the real cultural avatar of the time was the CBS-TV show “Lou Grant.”


August 27th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives
Is Congress threatening press freedom by intimidating carriers?

Since government can’t censor news content, can it control it indirectly through threats and intimidation? A congressional inquiry this year led by Democrats hinted at it and attempted to examine whether conservative news media were responsible for inciting violence. The representatives said they were just asking questions.


August 24th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity, People and Places
The 19th*: Gender, politics and policy are the keywords at a bold start-up writing “for communities rather than about them”

Launching a journalism startup in the midst of a pandemic, protests and a presidential election year with an unstable economy looming overhead, most would probably agree, is a terrible idea. But, for The 19th co-founders Amanda Zamora and Emily Ramshaw, it was the perfect opportunity to put women front and center.


August 23rd, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity, People and Places
Ms. Mayhem: A self-funded news website takes pride in reporting on the intersection of race, class, gender, ability and sexual orientation

Late one night in December 2017, Madison Lauterbach was having trouble falling asleep in the Sydney, Australia, hostel where she was staying over Christmas break. In between journalism school semesters at Metropolitan State University of Denver and getting ready to start her first journalism internship, she had an epiphany.


August 12th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives
‘Whirlybird’ documentary covers copter couple who covered L.A.

The news chopper world in Los Angeles is its own subculture. In a city that makes gridlock on its vast freeway system a high-contact sport, those with resources go up and over the traffic, experiencing a version of the city that mere vehicular mortals can only dream of having.


August 9th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: How to build a cool chart in Google Flourish — Handout + video

Google purchased the Flourish graphics tool five years ago, and it has evolved into an excellent tool for creating animated charts, maps and other interactives using only a spreadsheet. The tool includes a paid account for developers to code and add watermarks, but the free version of Flourish meets most newsrooms’ needs.


August 9th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity, People and Places
BridgeDetroit: Connecting with readers is key for a newcomer filling “information gaps” in the Motor City

BridgeDetroit launched in the middle of 2020 with one purpose: to focus on “lifting up the issues that Detroiters themselves identify as important to their lives.” That meant staffing with a diverse team that reflected the city’s demographics, and hiring an engagement director whose job would be to meet with the community in an effort to create something that truly represented Detroit.


August 4th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Researchers: Knowledge of SPJ Code of Ethics helps students better navigate ethical issues

College journalists who were familiar with the SPJ Code of Ethics, had taken an ethics course or had other exposure to ethical decision making were more likely to identify unethical behavior in scenarios posed to them in a survey by two South Carolina researchers.


July 29th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity, People and Places
Wind Newspaper: A free, bilingual weekly with a staff of one makes a difference in San Francisco

Every Tuesday and Wednesday, Portia Li makes the 45-minute trek north from her Millbrae home to San Francisco’s iconic Chinatown neighborhood. On a particularly gorgeous day, with a warmth that is the antithesis of the cool weather the City by the Bay is known for, she purposely parks on hilly Sacramento Street.


July 21st, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Bookshelf
Interview: Jerry Ceppos and “Covering Politics in the Age of Trump”

Jerry Ceppos, former executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News and vice president of news at Knight Ridder, got to “sit out” reporting on the Trump administration, thanks to his current position as a distinguished professor of journalism at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication.


July 12th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Video Editing on VN Smartphone App

There are many good smartphone video editing apps on the market, but for my work, the VN video editing app for iPhone and Android gets the job done better than any other tool based on ease of use and powerful controls.


July 6th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Freedom of the Prez, From the President
From the President: Our most important interviews

Remember your first nerve-racking interview as a student journalist? Remember the thrill of finishing your first story and having it actually be in the world? Remember reaching out to pros for advice while in college, not knowing if they’d talk to you, then hearing they gladly would?


June 30th, 2021 • Featured
Capital Gazette memorial unveiled

Three years to the day after five staff members of the Capital Gazette were killed in an assault on their Annapolis, Maryland newsroom, a memorial to the victims, “The Guardians of the First Amendment,” was unveiled in downtown Annapolis on Monday.


June 28th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, People and Places, Ten With...
10 with Lindsay Peoples Wagner

Named editor-in-chief at biweekly The Cut in January, Lindsay Peoples Wagner took the reins of the fashion magazine after serving in the same role at Teen Vogue — where she was the youngest and among the few Black journalists serving as editor-in-chief of a Condé Nast publication.


June 14th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Tools for Visualizing the Census, Part II

If you need to visualize U.S. Census data, unemployment statistics or other datasets quick and with no spreadsheets or coding, give the Google Public Data Explorer a try. The Data Explorer is linked into several official databases, including the census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Eurostat, the Inter-American Development Bank, World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund.


May 27th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Journalism Education
Navigating Remote Learning

This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are producers of journalism’s future.  These days, Robert Walz approaches his teaching in much the same way he did as a TV news anchor: with short bursts of information delivered in an engaging way.


May 26th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Bookshelf, Diversity
Bookshelf: Ken Ellingwood looks at journalism pioneer Elijah Lovejoy

Ken Ellingwood readily admits that the subject of his new book is not exactly a household name. But for anyone who believes mightily in the First Amendment, Elijah Lovejoy was a titan of its promise and protections. “First to Fall: Elijah Lovejoy and the Fight for a Free Press in the Age of Slavery” is Ellingwood’s deeply researched story of a man in the 1830s who used the power of the pen to speak out firmly against the horrors of slavery, fighting back harder with every death threat and unruly mob who came after him.


May 19th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Connecting to the Code

This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are stewards of ethical journalism.  Truth took a beating during the past four years, with the previous U.S. president frequently spewing provably false or misleading statements as disinformation overall coursed through social media with ferocious speed.


May 10th, 2021 • Featured, Toolbox, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Tools for Visualizing the Census, Part I

There are many ways to visualize data from the U.S. Census. Next month, we’ll explore chart-making software to visualize demographic data. But this month we’ll explore how to visualize physical change with Google Earth Engine Timelapse. Earth Engine is a project organized by Google, Carnegie Mellon, the US Geological Survey and NASA.


April 30th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, News Biz Quiz
News Biz Quiz: A renamed Times section, new AP style points, more

Ah, spring, the time of year when our minds turn to blooming flowers, escaping a year of COVID captivity and, of course, the May News Biz Quiz! It’s been a good month for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, so let’s get started!


April 26th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Member Profile, People and Places
Celebrating the Stories Behind the Stories

This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are champions for journalists.  For nearly 90 years, the Society of Professional Journalists awards have honored journalists and outlets for their crucial contributions to the profession. The awards are designed to recognize the very best in professional journalism across print, radio, television, newsletters, art/graphics and online.


April 16th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog
Hicks: DeSantis square off with “60 Minutes” feeds media distrust

It sounded familiar: A politician brazenly admonishing the press for a story that portrayed him unfavorably, accusing the reporter of bias and the “big corporate media” of smearing his name for profit.  But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ excoriation of a “60 Minutes” report on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout landed differently because a significant aspect of his criticism — a questionable allegation of wrongdoing — was echoed by respected mainstream journalists and news organizations, elevating the credibility of his complaint. 


April 12th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Scraping a .PDF

I loathe .PDFs of public records with the power of a thousand suns. They’re a tease. They’re full of data tables but useless to most data journalists in the .PDF format. And government officials love to share them with us because they know a .PDF


April 8th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives
Understanding Shield Law

This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are fighters for the First Amendment.    You’ve written a story that embarrassed someone who now wants the name of your protected source. Or perhaps a trial judge demands you testify and spill all.


April 1st, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, News Biz Quiz
News Biz Quiz: Oprah, Jeopardy, media leaders, more

No foolin’ — it’s time for another News Biz Quiz! Yes, this one does have a story that fooled some news outlets. It also has Oprah making fools out of some British royals and late newsman Roger Mudd fooling a politician with a seemingly easy question.


March 30th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Diversity, Journalist on Call
Diversifying newsrooms requires buy-in and commitment to goals

A goal of American newspaper editors to achieve newsroom diversity that matched the racial and ethnic diversity of the country was considered so ambitious they set the deadline more than two decades out.  Twenty years after the deadline, the goal still hasn’t been met, but the urgent need to do so remains, highlighted by the recent Atlanta-area killings of eight people, six of them women of Asian descent. 


March 29th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Freedom of the Prez, From the President
From the President: Shifting gears and moving forward

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to cancel a half-dozen eagerly anticipated trips I’d planned as incoming Society of Professional Journalists president. I had booked flights to Hawaii, Minnesota, Utah, Illinois, Indiana and Washington, D.C. — three for regional SPJ conferences and three others for leadership training, a board meeting and our Sigma Delta Chi Awards.


March 22nd, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Ten With...
10 with DuJuan McCoy

DuJuan McCoy began his career in Indianapolis selling TV advertising spots door-to-door. More than three decades later, the media mogul has managed, owned and operated various networks, at one point becoming the only Black person to own and operate a Fox affiliate in the United States.


March 8th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Scrape data from a web page/format it for editing

Government websites love to bury data in tables on web pages. Why? It satisfies legal requirements for making document public under sunshine laws, but it renders the data useless. You can’t sort or filter the data to look for trends, do math calculations to find rates and averages, and other things journalists need to find stories.